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Farewell to a star, the birth of another (?), soon be summer, and all the winners (well, maybe)!

Nicky HendersonWell the rain in Spain may fall mainly on the plain but over here it seems to fall on the racecourses, and I am anything but convinced Ascot will get the go ahead tomorrow whatever they may claim. A trip to Lingfield Friday afternoon was abandoned once I saw how terrible the roads were (I drive a Citroen, not a canoe), and anyone backing a horse without flippers and a snorkel (forget blinkers), needs their head examined. Last weekends horses ran below par on the ground and like Ron, I am very aware that when the mud is flying the form book goes out the window, but we are here to have fun as much as to make money, so we ought to at least consider the Saturday cards. Before then, we had both good and bad news this week with the sad passing of St Nicholas Abbey who fought off whatever mature threw at him until colic finally beat him in a photo finish. I wont claim I thought a lot of him as a horse because I am not two faced but he did win some soft Group Ones and would have been a success at stud if he passed on his genes added to his fighting spirit, so a sad loss for the whole industry at the end of the day. I never really understood the circle of life but can say welcome to Frankel’s first foal, a son of Chrysanthemum who in turn won two Group Three’s at The Curragh and is a daughter of Danehill Dancer. At £125,000 a pop I will need to win the lottery before considering Frankel for any mares I may purchase and everyone knows my views that the breeding industry showcases all that’s bad in the world of marketing (how can a horse change hands for millions with zero chance of winning that in prize money however good they are?), yet I am still intrigued to see how well his progeny do at the track, though they cant all be even half as good as “Dad”?  Although a punter deep down I do like to think of myself as a racegoer as well, and the news that Treve is targeting Royal Ascot this season has to be good news for me and the sport in general. Her annihilation of one of the best Arc fields for many a year will live long in the memory and after only five career starts, there ought to be plenty of improvement still to come, and in all honesty, I would be happy to back her ante post for the Price Of Wales Stakes now at whatever price as if she turns up, it is difficult to even imagine anything within a stone of her left in training.

Down to the nitty gritty now and remember, I am a writer not a tipster, so do take what I say with a punch of salt! If I have any bets myself, other than on Ron’s top rated of course, then it will be three singles – though I could always be tempted in to multiples, yes I know they are the bookmakers favourite but then so is the lottery and we all do that!  First up, I give you Mickie in the 1.50pm, a rapidly improving mare trained by the excellent Henry Daly and looking to land the hat trick in the 1.50pm at Ascot. She had a bit more in hand than the official margin last time out at Kempton when she may have been sent to the front a bit too soon but with that lesson learned, she ought to treble up this afternoon under the excellent Richard Johnson. Sticking with Ascot for now, how about the improving Call The Cops landing yet another Saturday contest for the close to unstoppable Nicky Henderson? After winning first time out in a bumper at Southwell he jumped badly at the same track on his hurdling bow but made amends last time out when hacking up at Towcester with any amount in hand. This is a far trickier contest but they feel the step up to two and three quarter miles will bring about a load of improvement and if that is correct, he should prove tricky to beat here. Lastly, but most certainly not leastly, so we risk backing anything from the David Pipe yard this weekend or not? A poor period seems to be over with winners recently at Wincanton on Thursday so I am willing to forgive and forget and back chasing debutant Gevrey Chambertin in the 1.30pm at Haydock with my fingers firmly crossed.  A full brother to Grands Crus, he has a better temperament and has schooled well at home (apparently), and I am told they are starting him off in this trickier race to gauge just how good he is or could be, in which case the 20/1 currently available for the RSA Chase could look pretty stupid – but then we will know the answer to that soon enough!

Selections this week

Mickie 1.50pm Ascot

Call The Cops 4.05pm Ascot

Gevrey Chambertin 1.30pm Haydock

Horses to follow:

New look shaken up horses to follow list:

Jumps:

Lily Mars – one run in a bumper was enough to catch my eye and I feel she caught a tartar at Wincanton on her debut when she looked in need of the run. With that experience under her belt she ought to be placed to pick up a race, which should be enough to make us a profit.

***No entries at present***

Rolling Star – a well-regarded young hurdler who won with any amount in hand at Haydock and seems certain to come on again for the run as per the Henderson yard this season

***Entered Newbury 8th February***

African Gold – a classy hurdler expected to be even better over fences, he rather let the side down on his chasing debut but is I am assured far better than that – he will win races over fences.

***Lost last week (pulled up lame) but I haven’t given up just yet!***

Opera Og – hopefully well handicapped off a rating of 117 (when last seen), the seven year old looked all over the winner at Bangor before fading badly to finish third. The lack of a run was clearly his undoing and with that run under his belt he should win next time out provided connections keep their sites lowered to a sensible level.

***No entries at present***

Champagne Fever – on target at home for the Arkle Chase, held in the highest regard and schooling well for Willie Mullins, likely to have Ruby Walsh in the saddle, what more can a punter ask for?

***Entered Leopardstown 26th January plus others***

Sire De Grugy – won as he pleased on his return and sure to improve considerably for the race for Sussex trainer and ex jockey Gary Moore.

***Runs at Ascot 3.35pm Saturday ***

Big Casino – removed – he does not appear well enough handicapped to win a race to me, and will take all season to get down to a workable rating. He will be added back in when they send him chasing…

Flat:

Mutakayyef – trained by William Haggas I had a quandary this week – do I or don’t I back the son of Sea The Stars? As with all the stable juveniles he was a shoe in to improve for the run but he is spoken of in glowing terms by gallop watchers in Newmarket. Fact is he ran as expected – slowly away, green as grass, and hampered as well, he will learn plenty from the experience and can be ignored at your peril.

***No current entries***

Freemason – a once raced juvenile owned by Highclere Thoroughbred Racing – Harbinger (a posh syndicate), he cost a whopping 150,000 Guineas so ought to be half decent – word is he is all that and more, so one to stay on the right side of.

***No current entries (unless you include the 2014 Derby!***

Idea – once raced two year old trained by Sir Michael Stoute and said to be flying on the gallops. Won after a poor run at Windsor when last seen looking as green as grass and very much one to keep on the right side of – originally nominated by a post racing reader!

***No current entries***

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